Check out a quick breakdown of every game on Friday the Thirteenth’s NBA slate. We’ll take a look at the Vegas lines and totals, recent trends, and a few players you can be targeting for tonight’s action.
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Minnesota Timberwolves @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Pacers -7
I am not sure what exactly to make of this game. The Pacers are 5-4, and the Timberwolves 4-4. The Wolves play in the tougher conference, but I am still pretty sure the Pacers are better. Paul George is probably the best player involved in this game, and I am not sure who will cover him, or who he will cover. Will it be man on man with Wiggins? Because Wiggins and Monta Ellis certainly do not match up well together. Will the no name power forwards balance each other out, or tip the scales in one direction or the other?
If there is one reason to watch this game, it is Karl-Anthony Towns. He will be trying for his fifth straight double-double in this one, and should be able to get there. Watching to see whether Ian Mahinmi is able to keep him out of the box score will go a long way towards shedding some light on the ceiling this kid has in the league. He should be able to dominate this matchup, and I can’t wait to see whether or not he does.
– Paul George ($9,200)
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,500)
– Andrew Wiggins ($6,400)
– Jordan Hill ($4,700)
Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic
Line: Jazz -1.5
In a battle between two singular teams, one of the signature players, Victor Oladipo is going to be inactive. That’s one of the reasons Vegas installed this as by far the lowest-scoring game of the night, and the other reasons involve things like “can’t shoot,” “no playmmakers” and “pretty decent defenders.” It might be an entertaining game for basketball purists, but without Oladipo, that quality certainly takes a hit. It creates more value for Evan Fournier, who should see even more minutes than he is accustomed to, but his price tag has been creeping up enough that much of the value is gone. For the Jazz, it’s clear that even if Gobert plays, he won’t be 100%, which could create an opportunity that Vucevic could take advantage of down low, which you know he’d love to see to help get back on track following his own injury.
– Nikola Vucevic ($7,500)
– Derrick Favors ($7,100)
– Evan Fournier ($6,100)
– Trey Burke ($4,500)
Atlanta Hawks @ Boston Celtics
Line: Hawks -1
The Hawks are 8-2 after stumbling a bit out of the gate, and the Celtics have been competitive in a bunch of games, but have to be disappointed to be sitting at 3-4 right now (12th in the East). But the Celts have been playing entertaining games, getting up and down the court, and creating fantasy value where you might not expect it, both for themselves and their opponents. Many nights, watching them play feels more like watching a couple of Western Conference lightweights duke it out in the late-night game. Isaiah Thomas is coming off a couple of cold shooting nights but he has been their most consistent fantasy performer by far so far on the year. For Atlanta, there is no answer for Millsap on the Celtics roster, with the possible exception of Amir Johnson, who has not been getting a ton of playing time. In the backcourt, Jeff Teague is one of the better defenders you’ll find, and the Celtics have been getting after both point and shooting guards on defense as well, which means this might be a game you want to avoid. It’s not that none of these guys will be productive, it’s that it might prove very difficult to know in advance which one it will be.
– Paul Millsap ($8,000)
– Al Horford ($7,200)
– Isaiah Thomas ($6,900)
– Kent Bazemore ($5,400)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks
Line: Cavaliers -6
The Cavs are 7-1 despite the fact that Kyrie is not back, and LeBron is never playing more than 35 or so minutes in any given night. The role players on this team have settled in nicely, and Kevin Love has been looking a lot more like Kevin Love out there. With LeBron averaging only 20 shot attempts per game, and no other real reliable offensive weapons out there with him, all of a sudden this looks a lot more like the Timberwolves team Love thrived on for a possession here and there. He is a deadly scorer when he can play in isolation on the block, and make the determination himself whether he backs someone down or faces up and drains a mid-range jumper. He has five out of eight games so far with 28+ fantasy points, and his price does not reflect that reality.
– LeBron James ($9,900)
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,300)
– Kevin Love ($7,900)
– Arron Afflalo ($4,400)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -9.5
The big news in this one, obviously, is that it’s looking as if Anthony Davis is not going to be able to go tonight. He missed Wednesday with a bruised hip and is officially listed as doubtful for tonight. It should be a short-term injury, but it is going to impact the action tonight, on the court and in DFS. First, and most obviously, the line took forever coming out, because the Pelicans are a different team without Davis. Second, and almost as obviously, you can now target Ryan Anderson who should get some run in this one, which is a decent matchup. It also might mean more shot opportunities for the Pelicans’ guards. And finally, an underrated side effect, in terms of DFS: with Davis out, one of the top options is gone, and that might concentrate ownership percentages in the top players available at other positions.
For the Raptors, most of their production has been coming from Kyle Lowry and Carroll, and without Davis, this would be a great matchup for DeMarre. But he is listed as questionable – and with a weak defensive backcourt in NO to begin with, no rim protection, and some shuffling of minutes tonight with Jrue Holiday’s return, this could be a big night for Lowry.
– Kyle Lowry ($8,100)
– Jonas Valanciunas ($6,000)
– Ryan Anderson ($6,000)
– James Johnson ($3,700)
Charlotte Hornets @ Chicago Bulls
Line: Bulls -7
The Bulls are coming off a blowout win against the 76ers on Monday followed by three days off. They should be at their best tonight, but you are actually hoping they don’t run away with it, because Hoiberg has demonstrated a willingness to get his starters on the bench and resting when he has the chance. Luckily, therefore, the Hornets are actually playing pretty well, now sitting at 4-4 after a close win over the Knicks on Wednesday.
The Bulls, on paper, have been a good matchup for big men so far this season, which makes sense with Noah missing time on a consistent basis, but Big Al is not the kind of athlete on the other side to take advantage of the matchup. He is not going to simply outwork and outrebound the Bulls, like some bigs can, and they do still have the length to bother his shot on the post. With Gasol playing a little better lately, I would expect him to have the best day of any of the guys down low in this one.
– Jimmy Butler ($7,800)
– Pau Gasol ($7,400)
– Nicolas Batum ($6,400)
– Jeremy Lin ($4,400)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Thunder -13.5
Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook. There are only two problems with starting Westbrook in your lineup tonight, and the price is not one of them: 1. everyone else is going to try to as well, and 2. there are a lot of enticing point guard options out there tonight, so it’s hard to spend up on when you can get an option you like at another position for that money instead. But still, Russell Westbrook.
For the Sixers, it’s hard to know where the scoring is going to come from. With Kanter and Ibaka under the rim, it’ll be hard to trust Okafor, one of the most pleasant surprises Sixers fans have had in a while. They better hope Stauskas has his shot falling.
– Russell Westbrook ($11,600)
– Jahlil Okafor ($7,100)
– Serge Ibaka ($6,500)
– Jerami Grant ($4,500)
Portland Trailblazers @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizzlies -7
Damian Lillard is going to play tonight, is my guess, but I don’t know how much I would want to dribble, or catch passes, or shoot with the thumbnail torn off my strong hand. Doesn’t that just sound awful? C.J. McCollum hasn’t been the most efficient guy in the world so far, but he does have 36 shots in the last two games, and if that goes up even further he could prove to be a solid value in this one no matter how many he misses. For Memphis, it’s Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, same as it always is, and Portland really doesn’t have the guns to do anything about it. They’re both solid plays in this one.
– Marc Gasol ($6,700)
– C.J. McCollum ($6,500)
– Zach Randolph ($6,200)
– Al-Farouq Aminu ($5,900)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks
Line: Mavericks -8
Wow, the Lakers are bad. I mean, you knew they were bad, and then you watched them play and wow – that kind of bad. But the good thing about them is that they have a couple of fantasy relevant players of their own (see: Randle, Julius), and they create fantasy relevant players for their opponents wherever they go. The problem with the way the Mavericks play, though, is that it is easy to imagine a scenario where they have eight guys in double-digits and not one who can carry you to a fantasy win, even if collectively they put up 110.
Kobe is listed as questionable, and did not participate in today’s shootaround, so there could be more looks to go around for the rest of the Lakers, bumping the value for Nick Young in particular and all their other starters more generally.
– Dirk Nowitzki ($6,400)
– Julius Randle ($6,300)
– Zaza Pachulia ($5,600)
– Nick Young ($3,500)
Houston Rockets @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Rockets -5
The Rockets have just not lived up to the preseason expectations of many analysts, and it is hard to nail down exactly why. Their players have been performing at levels you might expect, at least statistically speaking, but the wins have just been hard to come by. And, they seem to play down to the level of their competition. All of which is good news for tonight’s fantasy value, on both sides of the court here. The Nuggets and the Rockets both tend to play high scoring games, which is how Vegas ends up at 212 for the total, higher than any other game on the board. But more importantly, if the game stays close, all that scoring should be concentrated in a select few who could carry you to victory by themselves (guys like Gallinari and Harden, if you want to get specific).
Dwight Howard could very well sit this one out as the front end, on the road, of a back-to-back set, and with almost all of the other centers on both roster banged up, you should expect plenty of minutes from the power forwards, Faried and Hickson as well as Capela and Jones. That will only lead to more small-ball and more scoring, so you might want to make sure you are in on this action at least at some level.
– James Harden ($10,100)
– Danilo Gallinari ($6,100)
– Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,000)
– Clint Capela ($4,400)
Brooklyn Nets @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Kings -6.5
Rajon Rondo has played 48 minutes in back-to-back games, not surprisingly making him a very useful investment for DFS purposes over that time frame. Darren Collison remains out, but third-stringer Seth Curry is available in this one, so you might see his minutes pushed back to, I don’t know, 45? I am kidding, of course, but much less than 40 would actually be surprising because Seth Curry is not… good. He is a warm body, Rondo could use a break here and there, but it might actually improve the point guard’s fantasy value, if he is fresher and more productive during the time he is out there.
It’s hard not to love Cousins every time he steps on the floor, but he does cost a ton of money, so it’s easy to get away from him against a team that has done such a good job defending centers so far this season. I know Cousins is not most centers, but Brook Lopez does have the size and presence to at least make himself known on the blocks and give the Kings superstar something to think about when he catches the ball in the post and thinks about immediately spinning into the paint.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($9,900)
– Rajon Rondo ($7,600)
– Rudy Gay ($6,800)
– Thaddeus Young ($5,700)